On Anne HathawayPosted: November 30, 2011
Never in my life have I written a poem for a reason other than a class assignment; admittedly, most of those poems look and read like prose except I made the paragraphs look like stanzas. My brain just doesn’t seem to work when it comes to writing (or analyzing) poetry. This is why it was so startling to me when I perused Duffy’s journals how the poems seemed to appear out of nowhere.
Do you remember those concrete poem outlines from elementary school? They were lines made to look like a specific shape (circle, diamond, Christmas tree) and the instruction was to write a poem on the lines about what the shape could be. So, for instance, you might write a poem about baseball on a diamond shaped outline. I think this is how I would have to write a sonnet. I would have to have fourteen lines with the rhyme scheme written out to the side and it would probably take me days to figure out how to write in pentameter.
The only words about Duffy’s sonnet, “Anne Hathaway,” before the actual poem are a note to check Shakespeare’s will to see what it says about the second best bed to Anne Hathaway. Then on the next page, the poem is written in full. There are minor edits; Duffy changes “swear” to “dream” on the seventh line, “dreaming” to “dribbling” on the twelfth line, and “his timeless” to “my lover’s” on the third line.
These minor edits make the poem slightly better in my opinion, but they don’t change any part of the poem dramatically. So, in essence, on November 30, 1998 (thirteen years ago today), Carol Ann Duffy wrote “Anne Hathaway” as it is published today.
Now that I have had a chance to examine and analyze Duffy’s manuscripts, I respect her creative mind much more. I go about writing poetry in a very mathematical way; it appears that Duffy’s poems flow from her mind to the paper with no intermediary.